Madison

 

Tec 4 Harold F. Madison


   Tec. 4 Harold F. Madison was the son of Ruel & Anna Madison.  He was born in South Dakota on August 14, 1914, but he grew up in Monona, Iowa, with his two brothers and three sisters.  He attended a parochial grade school and went to high school in Luana.  In 1937, his family moved to Milton Junction, Wisconsin.

    In November of 1940, Harold and his brother Ralph joined the Wisconsin National Guard's 33rd Tank Company in Janesville.  His reason for doing this is that the draft act had passed and he wanted to fulfill his military obligation.  He also was aware that the tank company had been federalized and was to train in Kentucky for a year.

    At Fort Knox, Kentucky, Harold was trained as a tank radio operator.  It was his job to keep in touch with company headquarters.  Next, he took part in maneuvers in Louisiana in the early fall of 1941.  After these maneuvers, he learned that the 192nd Tank Battalion had been selected for duty overseas.
    The battalion traveled by train to San Francisco.  By ferry, they were taken to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, they received inoculations and physicals.  Those members of the battalion who were found to have treatable medical conditions remained behind on the island.  They were scheduled to join the battalion at a later date.
   
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.S. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam.   At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
    At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
   
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance as they readied their tanks to take part in maneuvers.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, Capt. Walter Write informed his company that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.  The tanks were put on alert and took their positions around the airfield.   At 8:30 A.M., American took off to intercept any Japanese planes.  Sometime before noon, the alert was canceled and the planes landed and were lined up near the mess hall.  Their pilots went to lunch.

    The tankers were eating lunch when planes were seen approaching the airfield from the north at about 12:45.  Many of the tankers counted 54 planes.  The planes approached the airfield and watched hat was described as "raindrops" falling from the planes.

    Elmer lived through the bombing of Clark Field.  During the attack, he and the other tankers could do little since their guns were not made to use against planes.  
    After the attack, the company was sent to the Barrio of Dau so it would be close to a highway and railroad.   From there, the company was sent to join the other companies of the 192nd just south of the Agno River.  There, the tanks, with A Company, 194th held the position. 
    On December 23rd and 24th, the company was in the area of Urdaneta.  It was there, that the tankers lost the company commander, Capt. Walter Write.  After he was buried, the tankers made an end run to get south of Agno River after the main bridge had been destroyed.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening. They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.

    A Company was sent, in support of the 194th, to an area east of Pampanga.  It was there that they lost a tank platoon commander, Lt. William Reed.  The company returned to the 192nd on January 8, 1942.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    A Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese Marines who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank had left the pocket.
    To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole. Driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.

    At 6:45 the morning of April 9, 1942, Harold learned that he and that other defenders of Bataan were to be surrendered to the Japanese.  After the company destroyed their tanks, they became Prisoners Of War.   With the other members of A Company, he walked to Mariveles where he began the "Death March."

    As a POW, Harold was first held at Camp O'Donnell and next at Cabanatuan Camp #1.  He was sent out on the bridge building detail to rebuild the same bridges the retreating Filipino and American forces destroyed as they withdrew into Bataan.  While on the detail he became ill and was sent to Cabanatuan.
    According to records kept by the medical staff at Cabanatuan, Harold was admitted to the hospital on the Saturday, August 8, 1942, suffering from dysentery.  Harold was reported to have died on Friday, August 14, 1942, of dysentery at 2:30 in the morning.  His date of death happened to be his 28th birthday.
  Since his remains could  not be identified, he was buried as an "Unknown" at the cemetery.  His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.

    It should be noted that the National Archives records of Americans who died during the  World War II has Tec 4 Harold F. Madison as a second lieutenant. 


 

 

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